The Writer's Almanac/3
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"It's the birthday of novelist Elmer Gluesniffer, born in Intercourse, Pennsylvania in 1961. He wrote his first novel, The Flasher Only Rings Twice in 1983, when he was just twenty-two years old. The protagonist, a misunderstood ex-figure studies model facing middle age, copes with his sagging body and diminishing profile as best he can, by displaying the remains of his earthly gifts door-to-door, to a series of unsuspecting strangers.
"Disgraced in 1985 by a high profile arrest for public indecency, Gluesniffer claimed to have been "conducting important research" for his follow-up novel, when taken into custody in a suburban neighbourhood in Allentown. His career would never recover, though most of his contacts that day have done just fine after intense, daily counseling in the years since.
"Here's an excerpt from Elmer Gluesniffer's debut/swan-song novel, in celebration of his birthday:
- The Flasher Only Rings Twice
- Nervously, I approached the door, terrified but intoxicated with the anticipation. Or perhaps the wine?
- Who might answer? An attractive young woman? A stodgy old priest? A young boy readying himself for baseball practice? I didn't know.
- There was a time that I would case out a home in advance, but such was my appetite to surprise that I now needed to surprise myself.
- Trenchcoat at the ready, I raised my knuckles to rap at the door when I felt a hand grasp my shoulder from behind.
- "Can I help you, sir?" a voice asked.
- I turned. It was the police.
- "Good afternoon, sir," I replied, "Might I interest you in a new Electrolux vacuum cleaner?"
- "No, I don't think so," he replied. "Do you have anything else I might find of interest?"
- There was the tiniest pause as I considered his motives.
- "No, I'm sorry." I said.
- "Haven't we met before?" he asked.
- I shrugged.
- Our eyes met; again, there was the slightest pause.
- He looked me up and down.
- "Want to come back to my place?" he asked.
- I nodded.